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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

Board of Trustees Authorizes UNC to Move Forward With Exploration into Creating Osteopathic Medical School

UNC campus in the fall

November 16, 2021

The University of Northern Colorado Board of Trustees had meetings on Thursday, Nov. 11 and Friday, Nov. 12 on campus in which a variety of topics were discussed. Thursday’s meeting was comprised of a presentation on the university’s exploration into an osteopathic medical school, followed by a Finance and Audit Committee meeting. Friday’s meeting included governance group reports, a president’s report, an update on the university's Students First Framework and action items related to the pursuit of creating an osteopathic medical school.  

Osteopathic Medical School 

UNC is moving forward with its exploration of creating an osteopathic medical school after analyzing results from an external feasibility study and receiving positive support from the campus community, outside stakeholders consulted and the board. The university received results from a feasibility study conducted by consulting firm Tripp Umbach at the end of October, which was shared with the campus community at a town hall on Nov. 4 and in a presentation to the trustees on Nov. 11.  

These presentations came months after conversations were held with key stakeholders within the university and outside the university, including with healthcare leaders and local officials. In light of the study’s clear recommendation that UNC should continue with additional planning, and the supportive feedback from the UNC community and external stakeholders, the board approved the university’s next steps of applying for applicant status with the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) and initiating the hiring process for a founding dean. A final hire for a founding dean will be conditioned on the university satisfying additional procedural requirements over the coming months for the project to move forward. While these are essential steps to move forward in the process, UNC President Andy Feinstein cautioned there’s a lot of work to be done before the project becomes a reality. 

“Our university was founded 132 years ago in response to the need for teachers in communities across Colorado. Today, we find ourselves positioned to meet another critical challenge that will shape the health, strength and growth potential of Greeley, Weld County and the state for many years to come,” Feinstein said. “To be clear, there are still a number of gates that we will need to pass in order for this to come to fruition. However, my optimism and excitement about the possibility of UNC creating a new medical school to meet the needs of our community continue to grow.”  

Additional information about this project, including why there is a critical need for more physicians in Colorado and nationwide, can be found in a recent news release and on UNC’s osteopathic medical school exploration webpage. 

Fiscal Year 2021-22 (FY22) First Quarter Financial Report 

 Dale Pratt, assistant vice president for Finance, presented the FY22 first quarter financial report to the trustees on Thursday, Nov. 11. As Pratt outlined, the FY22 budget was prepared with the expectation of returning to in-person operations and projected a $2.9M operating surplus. Undergraduate enrollment at Fall 2021 census was 6,084 FTE, or 347 FTE below budget. Graduate census enrollment was 1,622 FTE, or 60 FTE below budget. However, the enrollment-related shortfall in revenue has been offset by the unbudgeted proceeds of oil and gas lease royalties, at $3.5M year-to-date.  

 Expenses at the university continue to reflect conservative spending, even with the return to on-campus activities. Reductions in the use of typical office supplies, slower deliveries related to supply chain issues and reduced travel have been beneficial in minimizing spending. As such, the FY22 forecast reflects an anticipated $5.1M operating surplus, compared to the budget surplus of $2.9M. The university’s cash position is projected to be at $57.9M at the end of FY22 (excluding HEERF III grant funds), $1.4M more than the FY21 ending cash position of $56.5M. The forecast of an increased cash position of $57.9M represents the fourth consecutive year of growth in the end of the year cash position at UNC, despite the significant financial impacts felt from COVID-19.  

Also shared at the Finance and Audit Committee meeting was a summary of UNC’s preliminary financial statements for the current fiscal year, an annual debt management report and composite financial index, and a presentation from the university’s salary equity committee.  

Compensation Discussion 

Fritz Fischer, professor of History, faculty trustee, and chair of the Salary Equity Committee, shared a presentation with the board providing an update on the work that has been done by the Salary Equity Committee to date. One of the key action items in UNC’s strategic plan, Rowing Not Drifting 2030, calls on the university to “develop and deploy a consistent and constructive process of evaluating and rewarding employee performance while also fostering varied opportunities for feedback and growth outside of the traditional supervisor-employee dynamic.” One of the tactics associated with this key action is to establish a compensation plan for faculty and staff. To this end, a Faculty Senate Salary Equity Committee was formed. Following significant work from this group and the administration, the Senate approved the adoption of a new NCHEMS (National Center for Higher Education Management Systems) group of 51 peer institutions as UNC’s salary compensation group. Currently, UNC faculty and staff are paid below the average among this national group of peer institutions. In conjunction with Faculty Senate, the administration has reviewed preliminary scenarios for raising faculty and staff salaries to 100% parity within the peer comparison group in the coming years.  

Students First Framework 

Interim Provost Lisa Vollendorf shared updates with the board around the newly formed Students First Framework, a foundational component to advance strategic efforts related to improving enrollment, retention rates and graduation rates. As Vollendorf described, it is “goal oriented, action driven and student focused.” The framework consists of executive sponsors, a steering committee and two task forces – admissions and recruitment and graduation and retention. The framework builds on UNC’s Strategic Enrollment and Student Success Plan (SESS). The executive sponsors for the Students First Framework are Vollendorf, Michelle Quinn, Tobias Guzmán, and Cedric Howard. Howard is UNC’s new vice president for Student Affairs and started at the university this week. More information about these efforts can be found on the Students First Framework webpage 

Friday’s meeting was the last for Christine Scanlan, who has served on UNC’s board for eight years. Scanlan is a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives and is currently president and CEO of the Keystone Policy Center. Trustee Scanlan was honored with kind remarks from Chairman Monfort and President Feinstein. All documents from the Board of Trustees Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 meetings can be found here 

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